Last October, I stumbled upon my first blog when I discovered Robin Cicchetti's Concord Carlisle High School library blog. Her words inspired me to set up my own RSS feed, and begin exploring the edu-blogosphere. I've been a blogging voyeur ever since. This summer, Patrick Larkin, @bhs principal on twitter, reached out to MA administrators to expand his own PLN. He showed me how to join twitter and I decided it's time to join the conversation, instead of just observing from afar.
What's this blog about:
I intend for this space to be a place for me to reflect, discuss, learn and struggle. I am both a district leader and a member of a campus team. We have six distinct high schools on our campus of schools. Each school has their own building, administrative team, staff and 500+ students. I'm leading efforts to try and change teaching and learning on campus from a traditional comprehensive high school model to something distinctly new. I must lead, but also follow because each principal and each school has their own voice, and their own ideas about how these schools should develop. What we become must be collaborative for it to be successful.
Fundamentally, I believe that high school, as it has been traditionally structured just doesn't work. In my experience, the comprehensive high school model certainly doesn't work for urban students who, in many cases, will be the first person in their family to graduate from high school or go to college. I used to use terms like "reform", "restructure", and "reinvent". But I no longer believe these words apply to what we're trying to do.
The title of this blog, "Growing Good Schools" refers to the slow, nurturing process that is required to grow anything successfully. Now full disclosure, last summer my wife and I managed to grow a tomato. That's one tomato for the entire year, so growing anything isn't necessarily the analogy I should be using. But I've learned that changing urban schools is like nurturing a garden. We certainly have successes, but we don't see obvious progress daily. I believe that growth in the garden doesn't happen overnight, and I know it doesn't happen overnight in schools either. This blog will hopefully be a place for me to discuss how our growth is going.
I've been trying to exercise regularly this summer. I managed to ride 180+ miles in July, but most of it was on a rail trail that passes through my town. This weekend I decided to take a 15 mile loop out on the roads. About three miles in, I realized my heart was pounding. It wasn't because I was out of breath, or tired. Instead, I realized I was scared. I knew that several miles ahead was a massive hill, and I wasn't sure I could climb it. Initially, I decided to turn around and head back on the more comfortable path. But then I thought about all the #leadershipday10 posts I read this weekend. Teachers from around the country called for administrators to lead, to try new edtech tools, to open up blocked sites, and let good innovative learning occur. I thought about all the times I have asked teachers to change something about their practice, and step out of their comfort zone, and I knew avoiding the hill was out of the question. I climbed it, thought I would die, cursed it mercilessly, and with a little walking, succeeded.
I was scared to climb the hill and I've been scared to enter the conversations I'm reading in blogs and on twitter. But growing good schools requires stepping out of our comfort zones and making changes. If I plan to lead, I'd better be willing to be in the discussion. So with that in mind, I'm hitting the publish post button and I'm headed out towards that hill on my bike.